Abstract

We describe the design and the early results of a feasibility experiment for sodium-layer laser-guide-star adaptive optics. Copper-vapor-laser-pumped dye lasers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation program are used to create the guide star. The laser beam is projected upward from a beam director that is located ~5 m from a 0.5-m telescope and forms an irradiance spot ~2 m in diameter at the atmospheric-sodium layer (at an altitude of 95 km). The laser guide star is approximately fifth magnitude and is visible to the naked eye at the top of the Rayleigh-scattered laser beam. To date, we have made photometric measurements and open-loop wave-front-sensor measurements of the laser guide star. We give an overview of the experiment’s design and the laser systems, describe the experimental setup, show preliminary photometric and open-loop wave-front-sensor data on the guide star, and present predictions of closed-loop adaptive-optics performance based on these experimental data. The long-term goal of this effort is to develop laser guide stars and adaptive optics for use with large astronomical telescopes.

© 1994 Optical Society of America

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